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Duke Hosts Panel on African-American Genetic Ancestry Testing

Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African and African American Studies, to learn results of his DNA test in public reveal

Several months ago, Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke University professor of African and African American Studies, had his DNA tested with the quick swipe of a cotton swab.

 Dr. Rick Kittles, a pioneer in genetic ancestry testing and co-founder of African Ancestry, Inc., will reveal the results during a panel discussion on race and genetics Wednesday, May 20, at Duke.The event, “Genetic Ancestry Reveal with Mark Anthony Neal,” takes place at 6:30 p.m. in the John Hope Franklin Center (2204 Erwin Rd., Durham), Room 240. The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the clinic lot on Trent Drive, directly across the street.Charmaine Royal, an associate professor of African and African American Studies at Duke and director of the university's Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference (GRID), organized the event and will co-moderate the panel discussion.In addition to Neal, Rick Kittles, a professor of surgery and director of the Center for Population Genetics at the University of Arizona, and Alondra Nelson, a sociology professor and dean of the social sciences at Columbia University, will participate. Nelson's forthcoming book, "The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome," explores the validity and nuance of genetic ancestry testing. Royal will co-moderate along with Karla Holloway, a professor of English, law and African and African American Studies at Duke.“We hope to help communicate and translate the benefits, limitations and risks of genetic ancestry information,” said Royal. “The development of guidelines is critical to enhance the public’s understanding of the science and its implications.”The panel discussion comes a day after a closed meeting at Duke with top geneticists, bioethicists and consumer interest groups to develop guidelines on using genetics to trace ancestry. The meeting, co-chaired by Royal, is a follow-up to a 2013 meeting organized by the American Society of Human Genetics.The event is organized by GRID and the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship (CADCE), of which Neal is director. Co-sponsors include the Provost's Office, Arts & Sciences Dean's Office, Science & Society, and African and African American Studies.